A Tyler Junior College student has been arrested and charged in the shooting death of a former student at a local apartment complex.
The victim, Deveon Johnson, 18, was shot with a .38 caliber revolver at his apartment Tuesday night. According to Tyler Police, Brandon Raynard Willis, 19, one of Johnson’s roommates, is suspected of firing the fatal shot. Johnson was pronounced dead at East Texas Medical Center at 8:08 p.m.
The shooting took place at 7:22 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2011 at Varsity Place Apartments on Varsity Drive near the UT-Tyler campus. Investigators determined that four young men from the Dallas area, including the victim and suspect, were leasing an apartment at Varsity Place Apartments. Witnesses told police that Willis pointed what he thought was an unloaded gun at Johnson while explaining how he had been shot in the past.
Willis pulled the trigger several times before it fired, striking Johnson. The fatal wound was to the upper right side of Johnson’s back.
East Texas EMS immediately began caring for the victim upon arrival at the apartment.
“While being attended by EMS, the victim lost consciousness. EMS and Fire began life saving efforts on the victim,” said Tyler’s Police Department’s Public Information Officer Donald Martin.
Willis is now in custody of the Smith County Jail and is being held on a $50,000 bond on the charge of manslaughter.
TJC’s Director of Marketing and Public Information Fred Peters released a statement from the college commenting on the shooting.
“We are saddened for the loss of life and the devastating affect this has had on the others involved. Our hearts go out to these young men, their friends and families. We ask that our entire college community keep these families in their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time,” said Peters.
This isn’t the first shooting at Varsity Place Apartments. In October 2009, Ricky R. Davis of Hallsville was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head when Tyler police officers responded to a call at the complex. According to witnesses, the victim and two suspects had a physical altercation prior to the shooting. One suspect then went to an apartment, obtained a handgun and began firing several shots into a group of people present. Both suspects were TJC students from Houston. Davis was the only victim.
A drive-by shooting involving at least nine gunshots took place at the apartment complex a just a few months ago in September. Shell casings from a 9-millimeter handgun were found by Tyler police officers at the scene. Even though bystanders crowded the parking lot when the shooting took place, nobody was injured.